The 10 Most Insulting Things Video Games Charged Money For
Editor's Note: This article was published in 2011. And since then, many of these things have become commonplace in the "Give us real money for some impressively stupid shit" business. We found it hilarious then, and we find it hilarious now. So please enjoy Luke McKinney ripping on them. God, remember Snooki?
Downloadable content (DLC) for games sounds like a great idea, like a stronger government for struggling postwar Germany. You buy a game for money, and if you like it, you buy more game for more money. Unfortunately, the only word in that sentence companies heard was "money" several times, and then a bunch of cash register sound effects. They've come out with more insulting offers than a drunk frat boy at a strip club. The defense "If you don't like it, don't do it" simply isn't enough for shit like ...
Horse Armor (Oblivion)
In 2006, Bethesda used their popular open-world game The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion to test the waters of DLC, and decided to go about it like they were trying to capture drunk fish with wallets. The first DLC they rolled out invited players to "Protect your horse from danger with this beautiful handcrafted armor." Unfortunately, it turned out that the armor didn't serve much of a function within the game, so they were asking you to spend $2.50 on pretty virtual horse clothes. While this was an enticing offer to anyone who had accidentally installed Oblivion instead of My Little Pony, none of those people were clever enough to steal their mom's credit card.
Even the horse looks surprised that you fell for this.
The internet exploded with rage, and Bethesda seemed to realize that DLC was not in fact free money after it was pointed out to them that even prison showers have seen subtler attempts to screw their users. Later Oblivion DLC included entire extra quests loaded with characters and items for the same price. Players congratulated themselves on the victory, and swore no one would ever be so stupid again.
Weapon Skins (Gears Of War 3)
Many more people were so stupid. Again. Five years after Oblivion's failure, Gears Of War 3 launched with more ridiculous frills than Ric Flair's entrance robe. Gears players were asked to buy dozens of "weapon skins," which would be awesome if the weapon in question was a Terminator and the wrapping was human flesh in the shape of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Instead, players who purchased the DLC got a paint job for their gun. The complete set is offered at a bargain 3,600 points. That's only $45!
Or three-quarters of the cost of the game.
This went beyond being just useless, since you were paying money to paint your weapon a bright color in an environment where anything that isn't dirt brown gets seen and shot immediately.
That dead guy on the right? Tiny bit of blue visible.
To confirm that they hated the people they were scamming, many of the skins are "cute flowers" and "animated rainbows," though maker Epic Games managed to hold themselves back from releasing "Our Sweaty Balls" drawn on the side of the Lancer.
Paying For Power-Ups (Dead Space)
The "Speed Kills" Dead Space add-on sells you slightly faster versions of half the guns you already have in the main game for $2.25. Every cent of which goes toward replacing the silk underwear EA ruined with excitement when they realized they could charge for power-ups.
Increasing weapon speed is just changing a variable. That's not even a single line of code, and they're charging over two dollars. By this math, the whole game should cost Saudi Arabia. Even Microsoft knows this is a sucker deal, as the only description text is "Includes faster-firing Force Gun, Line Gun, and Plasma Cutter. There are no refunds for this item." Half its own sales pitch is "Ha ha, you'll never get that cash back, sucker."
It's not even faster weapons -- it's some faster weapons. To get the others accelerated, you need the Scorpion Weapon Pack (another $2.25) and for your mother to have belly-flopped her way through her third trimester. If you buy both, EA just starts charging your account at random because you clearly don't even understand money.
Warden's Keep (Dragon Age: Origins)
Dragon Age: Origins has an incredibly immersive story ... which the DLC shatters like a sledgehammer. Several hours into the game, you make camp and go around talking to every single character. If you aren't familiar with this stage, you probably think an RPG is a rocket-powered grenade launcher.
As you chat everyone up, you meet a man who tells you of the forsaken "Warden's Keep," and you think "Woo-hoo! Side quest!" He promises adventure, items, and even a glimpse into the involved history of the game world. Anyone who makes it through the several pages of conversation has likely been moved by his impassioned pleas, and is ready to say, "Yes, desperate stranger, I will aid you in this valiant quest!" To which he replies, "[THAT WILL BE SEVEN REAL HUMAN DOLLARS.]" Machines haven't ruined a narrative so badly since the Matrix sequels.
They only tell you it's DLC after you've already decided to play. It's not in a shop or a marketplace menu, it's embedded in the game world. You're left hating the developers more than the in-game enemies. After all, the Darkspawn might be an eldritch force of horror bent on destroying the world, but at least the bastards turn up to kill you when you've already spent $60. Worse, this was launch-day content, meaning it was finished before the game was sold. Instead of trying to make the best possible game, companies are now precisely aiming for "good enough" to get you to pay more money for the best possible version of the game.
Rezurrection (Call Of Duty: Black Ops)
Call Of Duty is such a great game that they've released it 20 times. The franchise has shot so many people in so many sequels that Rambo and John McClane are thinking about staging an intervention. To avoid making the games too repetitive, the developers are adding new modes to keep people interested, but their imaginations are so atrophied that the most original thing they can think of is "Zombies!" And even that wasn't original, because they'd done it before. COD: World At War featured a fun extra zombie mode for free. COD: Black Ops released the same mode two years later as a $15 add-on. It's either a blatant mockery of customers or a truly meta attempt at representing zombification -- reanimating something that died a while ago and making it much worse the second time round.
I really hate pop culture for making zombie Nazis in space boring.
This isn't extra content -- they amputated part of the previous game so they could sell it for extra money. Of course, they did do some extra work to create a new map -- and that's "a" as in only one, because four of the five maps are from the original zombie mode. You know, the free one you already had if you are devoted enough to consider paying for this version. It doesn't help that both were made by Treyarch, official silver medal winners in the two-contestant "Making Good Call Of Duty Games" event.
Everything (Railworks: Train Simulator 2012)
There is a game called Train Simulator 2012, and that's not the ridiculous bit. It features incredibly detailed trains for train spotters, real routes for people who hate the way games take them to fantastic new worlds, and a full driving simulation for people who dream of a career so boring that real drivers fall asleep even when they know that will kill hundreds of people. Again, not the ridiculous bit.
The ridiculous bit is that this is a game about simulating trains, and you have to buy the trains. They're the whole point of a train simulator, and they cost $20. Each. Railworks has already released over a thousand dollars' worth of extra material (and now we've destroyed the economy by using the word "worth").
If you actually press the green button, it sends a natural selection squad to your house.
It'd be cheaper to just travel on the real trains. Hell, it'd be cheaper to hire a dozen prostitutes to cure you of your interest in trainspotting.
This P42DC Genesis costs more than a blowjob.
Color Pack (Street Fighter III: Third Strike)
Remember how you get a different-colored costume in Street Fighter by pressing a different fire button? Would you like to pay $3 instead? And did you know that Capcom thinks your answer was "yes" instead of whatever obscenity you just called them? Street Fighter IV is already infamous for selling character costumes to the exclusive beating people up / dressing up Barbies crossover market. Capcom made it worse in a recent release, because doing things again and more blatantly for extra money is Street Fighter's entire corporate strategy. At least they used to add things like characters. Now they're adding colors. Which is a total ripoff, because acting like new colors are as good as new characters is Mortal Kombat's thing.
The "Character Color Pack 1" for Street Fighter III: Third Strike makes Horse Armor look like a solid investment. They charge $3 for a new set of seven colors, and another $3 for a second set. Presumably because you have two kidneys to take the piss of. These aren't new costumes; they're palette swaps which took Capcom about negative one second to make. The best bit? These expensive new shades aren't visible to other players who haven't bought the pack. So when playing online, you're giving Capcom free money to pretend you're pink.
Buying Money (The Godfather)
The Godfather's "In-Game Money" lets you spend real money for fake money. This isn't even a multiplayer game like World Of Warcraft, in which (illegally) buying huge piles of cash gets you an advantage over other players. This is a single-player game, so you're giving real money to EA, then giving the fake money to fake shops programmed by EA. This reverse alchemy charges you twice, and the second time, you're giving up dignity instead of money. The 250k in fake money, which we won't dignify with a dollar sign, costs $1.875. That's 133 fake dollars per Microsoft point, and the ratio could be infinity per point and you should still get a free chewable drool-proof controller with every purchase.
There's no defense for this. If you bought it, you are ruining games for the rest of us. Infinite money and unlocking all the weapons (another item you can buy) used to be achieved with cheats or options. They were casual throwaways developers would include for fun because it takes more effort to program a microwave than add extra money to a game. But that system rewards intelligent players, and those are much harder to make money off of.
Pay Instead Of Play (Tales Of Vesperia)
Awesome games turn players into cybogs, but Namco has turned them into wallets wired up to dialysis machines. You give Namco a bunch of money to buy a role-playing game, then give them more money to buy the "Lvl UP +10" DLC to play it for you. You just flat-out buy extra levels instead of wasting time with that stupid "playing the game" thing.
The most terrifying thing is how there are six of these level-up items, because the Xbox Marketplace will only let you buy any item once to avoid players accidentally wasting money. So for players deliberately wasting money, Namco included two +10 level DLCs and four +5 levels. You can even buy in-game materials -- so you can pay real money to get fake goods, and then still have to spend your own time sitting at your console "crafting" items. They don't even sell you the finished items, just the material, because the only thing that makes free money sweeter is laughing at the people who gave it to you. There are people in sweatshops with better deals, because at least they're making net-positive money and real things.
Xbox Avatar Items are a worse way to spend money than hiring a hitman on yourself, because at least then the world will be saved from having you in it. (And a professional is being paid for actually doing something.) The Xbox avatar is the most useless video game item since the "peaceful negotiations" button in Doom. It's a Mii, except it was released later and isn't used in any (good) games.
Decorating a fake bobblehead on your console shouldn't just be free; they should pay you for valuable data on the limits of human boredom. Instead they charge real money for items, and we've prefixed the word "money" with "real" again because we still can't believe this is really happening. And for only $2, you can buy Snooki hair.
I preferred it when computers used nuclear weapons and killer robots to end civilization. At least then I wasn't ashamed.
This isn't just like Snooki, or preferably "Oh shit, we didn't notice it's like" Snooki. It's a licensed Jersey Shore product. It's a copyrighted simulated fake item based on a real fake person, and it costs real money. It'd be a less pointless spiral of financial insanity if you twisted dollar bills into Mobius strips and set fire to them in a pentagram, and the result would be less damaging to your soul.
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